Rob Wasch was looking for a way to get back in shape when he stopped in Sickler’s Bike and Sports Shop last July.
The Wyoming resident admits he had “let himself go” after serving a six-year stint in the National Guard, ending up weighing close to 300 pounds.
Phil Cable, of Sickler’s and a long-time cycling coach, convinced Wasch to try road riding.
Wasch took Cable’s advice and not only dropped about 150 pounds, but also became a highly successful road racer in an amazingly short period of time. He already has two victories and five top 10 finishes in 10 races this year.
“I was shocked,” the 29-year-old Wasch said of his success. “I’ve been dropping guys that have been racing three or four years.”
Wasch took 10th place in his first USA Cycling-sanctioned event back in April in the Cat 4/5 circuit race at the Cherry Blossom Challenge in Newark, N.J. He followed that performance up with a pair of fifth-place finishes and a 20th-place finish before winning his first race.
The win came in Binghamton Circuit Race’s road race in Binghamton, New York.
An indication about how remarkable Wasch’s success has been is the fact that the 20th-place finish is Wasch’s “worst” showing in a race so far.
“He’s shown a certain spark,” said Cable, who Wasch was quick to credit for his success. “Everything you tell him, he puts into practice.
“He’s very driven. I’m impressed.”
While the positive results have come quickly, they haven’t come easily.
Wasch drives a truck for a living and is often left searching for time to train after a long day of driving.
“I do put a lot of work into it,” he said. “I come off working 12- to 14-hour days unloading a tractor trailer, then I go ride 30 or 40 miles.”
He also has a family that is sure to keep him busy. Wasch and his wife, Jessica, have two daughters ages 7 and 11.
But Cable believes that because Wasch has seen firsthand the dramatic change cycling has made to his health that he is more likely to work hard on his riding.
Wasch says he just loves going fast on two wheels.
“I came out for my first group ride, and I was like, ‘Oh my God. I want to race,’ ” Wasch said.
He hasn’t slowed down since.
“I don’t know what it is,” Wasch said. “I’ve kind of made a name for myself.
“Guys ask me how long I’ve been riding. And when I tell them, they just kind of put their heads down and shake them.”
If you are thinking of following in Wasch’s footsteps but don’t know much about road riding, you may want to stop by Sickler’s Exeter shop on Wednesday nights.
The shop is offering a free Road Riding 101 class at 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday throughout the summer.
“There’s more people getting into road riding and we would like to help them get equipped to enjoy it,” Cable said.
Cable said the classes will cover everything from fixing flats, basic bike repair and proper riding techniques.
“We want to coddle you a little bit and get you to where you are comfortable on your bike,” he said.
The classes are free of charge. For more information, call the shop at (570) 602-7433.
It’s become a Father’s Day tradition in the Wyoming Valley.
The 11th annual Wilkes-Barre Duathlon will be held today, beginning at 6:15 a.m.
The race features a 3.1-mile run, a 16-mile bike race and another 3.1-mile run. All the fun starts from the Wilkes-Barre YMCA on West Northampton Street.